Are you vegan? Are you vegetarian? What are you? I have been asked these questions lately very very often so I decided to make a little post about this subject. Maybe this could possibly explain or make you understand why people (and I) have chosen one way or the other.
So first of all, no, I am not vegan. We eat mostly vegan when living in England just because of the quality of the food you can find from supermarkets. Of course there is an ethical reason behind it as well. I do not want to support any big chains that grow animals in poor conditions. If it’s possible to do it in the right way then why shouldn’t they all do that?! In my opinion, it is not about not eating animal products but giving the animals a chance to live a better life. Therefore, we still enjoy our steaks but we buy the meat only from small farm shops. One day I will grow my own animals and make sure they have lived a good life (not gonna eat them, though, but eggs and milk would be handy). However, when I go to visit someone or I fly back home, I do not expect all my friends and family to live like I do. I love food and I want my food to be high quality and tasty but I don’t expect everyone else around me have the same priorities. I still prefer not to buy meat from supermarkets but I feel in Estonia the dairy products are with better quality than here. And what is most important, in order to make a change (either environmental or eating habits related) you don’t have to give up everything. Not eating meat daily or preferring local suppliers is already a start.
This is a rooster randomly walking on the street (from our Canary Islands trip).
2 years ago I would have laughed into your face if you would have told me I’m gonna start this kind of lifestyle. I have always been into healthy food but vegetarianism and veganism have never crossed my mind. Mostly because I had no idea how much food is out there. I had never tried quinoa, lentils, all different types of beans, vegetables etc. It seemed like if you are vegan, all you can eat is a salad. I have learned so much about cooking vegetables and keeping a balanced menu without any one or the other way processed meat. I didn’t even have a favourite dish (how sad was that). Now I can tell you my favourite dish is vegan tomato soup. Not because it’s vegan but because it’s healthy and DELICIOUS. You don’t need to add meat to your menu just because you need protein or you need to fill your stomach. You can have protein and filling food from vegetables as well. However, because I simply love bbq and to get my B12 and all the other vitamins in proper amounts I keep eating meat now and then.
Before I explain more bout my opinion about total veganism, one thing people need to realise is that vegetarian or vegan food is not always healthy. Animal products do not make the dish unhealthy, the way of cooking and using products that are not fresh and are already processed make them unhealthy. Also using lots of salt and sugar. I gave up white sugar years ago and haven’t had any other type of sugar in the household for a while either. We use mostly honey to sweeten everything. Next to bbq the second thing I could never give up. So when going out, do not expect that vegetarian or vegan choices are healthier ones. You need to know how and what the dish is cooked from. Especially nowadays that there are so many vegan substitutes for non-vegan products you need to be very careful if you are trying to eat healthy.
That said, there are many different reasons why I still do not want to be considered as vegan. The main one is that I love meat way too much to properly give it up. I believe in listening your body and eating based on that (craving for chocolate or wine is not a need though). It is extremely important to consult with your GP or a specialist if you have any specific conditions before changing your diet (or whenever changing your diet drastically). However, I think that listening your body is almost as important. Acne, tiredness, weight changes, all these things might alarm you about your diet not being right. I grew up on pork and was used to eating meat every single day. I couldn’t even imagine not eating meat. Here I am, all grown up, and eating meat maybe few times a month. Surprisingly when it comes to dairy products then it has been easier than expected. I most probably would struggle more when living in Estonia but here they don’t have anything I crave for anyway.
Another reason why I do not consider myself as a vegan is that I don’t want to be part of this community. There are many parodies out there which all unfortunately reflect the truth. When moving to UK with a decision not to eat any animal products from supermarkets we joined few vegan groups in facebook to see where do they buy the food. Shockingly the attitude towards omnivores, even vegetarians (and sometimes other vegans who in their opinion are not doing “it” right) was extremely negative. For instance one of the group members posted a picture of a girl eating an ice cream next to a cow with very rude and abusive comment. Then all the other people started directing their anger under the picture calling people names based on the fact that a girl was eating an ice cream. No one really knew if it was actually a vegan or diary ice cream but an assumption was enough to heat everyone up. I want nothing to do with this kind of people who use “saving animals” ideology as a weapon towards other people. So just because of the negative and very aggressive atmosphere I do not want to belong there.
Now a little more serious problem appears when it comes to vegan parents raising their kids. Some parents realise that their decision to be vegan should not affect their kids’ choices. I work in health care and reading how parents either lie to their kids to force them into veganism or simply refuse to cook any animal products when their kids ask is shocking. Growing body needs balanced menu and raising kids omnivore doesn’t mean cooking meat daily or buying fish fingers (or other processed cr*p). In my opinion (and only mine), kids should be raised omnivores until they are able to decide themselves how they want to eat. That means for sure not before the end of teenage. A 4 or 5-year-old does not know what is good for him or what he should eat. If they could choose, they would feed on sugar.
A little illustrative picture how we should all friendly co-exist. 😀
Now if you are vegan and reading this then do not feel like you are attacked. Being vegan is okay. You just need to realise that noone is born vegan or vegetarian. If you meet someone that strongly disapproves your believes then think of them as yourself way back before you started changing your eating habits. They may realise it and agree with you later in life. Or they may never agree with you. Either way it’s okay. We all have one life to live. Instead of jumping on each other because of the ways we have decided to spend it let’s just acknowledge each other and live loved in peace.